According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development as in 2014, women account for 75 percent of the farming population in Nigeria, working as farm managers, laborers, marketers, agents, buyers, and sellers. Nigerian women farmers work alongside their male counterparts with some clear distinctions in activities between them. In most cases, the men execute the tedious tasks such as land clearing and felling of trees, gathering, and burning of bushes, and making ridges, while the women engage in planting, manual fertilizer application, and harvesting. Also, women participate in weeding, farm processing, management and organizing farm activities as well as selling farm produce.
Over the years, women have established more defined roles in agriculture. In Nigeria, women are involved in agricultural production, processing, and utilization. Women are rarely connected with agricultural export crops such as cocoa, rubber, cotton, but rather involved with the production of food crops such as maize, cowpea, melon, pepper, cassava, and vegetables. In some cases, women participate in small scale animal production including small ruminants, poultry, and aquaculture for large scale production or to feed their family.
A woman’s role in the agricultural sector is significantly affected by socio-economic factors such as income, education, and access to infrastructure. For agriculture to advance in Nigeria, gender-specific policies and services tailored to women in the value chains should be developed. To make these a reality, five interventions are required – training, increasing access to inputs, financing, enhancing market links and expanding co-operative programs like women co-operatives.
Despite these challenges, women are still the cornerstone of agricultural production, processing, marketing, and utilization. Their sense of determination, dedication and will to work and provide for their family is unquantifiable. “They play vital roles in the maintenance of our families, investing as much as 90 percent of their income in the families compared to 35 percent for men,’’ Mr. Echono said. (NAN)
Source: Sahel and Primetimes